Recently read: ‘London Style Guide’

I’ve had this beautiful book for years and finally made my way through the whole thing, instead of flicking through pages here and there.

If you’re looking for must-sees on the London tourist trail, the London Style Guide is not the book for you. I would not recommend relying solely on this book to plan a trip, especially if you’re planning your first trip to London. Some of the most popular sites, like the Tate Modern and St. Paul’s, are mentioned in passing, but the focus is on one-off shops, small neighborhoods and boutique hotels.

The London Style Guide

But before I dive into the book’s interior, can we focus on the exterior for a minute? This is a simply gorgeous book with a textured cover and thick, creamy pages; it even smells like a musty old tome found on a dusty bookshelf. It’s certainly a book to display in the open.

The Style Guide focuses on smaller neighborhoods in London, mainly outside of the city center (like Hampstead and Shoreditch). These stores, boutiques, pubs, hotels, and restaurants are where the locals go – all wonderful recommendations for a true London experience. Saska Graville, the author, also interviews local shop owners and in-the-know folks for their insight on London must-sees. All of this information is accompanied by drool-worthy, stunning photos.

Apparently there is a new edition of the London Style Guide out now; I haven’t read it, but I’m sure it’s just as wonderful.

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Lost in London: Our first trip abroad

“So, we’re lost in the middle of London, and you don’t know where we are. Great,” my husband said, growing crankier by the second as we walked out of the Earl’s Court tube station.

We were on our first international trip together. At the time we were still engaged, and I had somehow convinced him that spending spring break in cloudy England would be a great idea.

“We just went out the wrong exit,” I tried to explain. “I know exactly where we are.”

Tower Bridge, London, England

London was the first place I visited outside the US, and it immediately became – and has stayed – my favorite city in the world (not that I have seen so many, but whatever). I was so excited to show Joe, the currently grouchy significant other, everything I loved about the city, and traveling in general. Before this trip, he had never traveled outside North America, or even his own time zone, and I hoped to show him how much traveling meant to me. But right now the jet lag was bearing down hard on him.

Joe grumbled and started following me, our carry-on suitcases jolting over uneven cracks in the sidewalk.

Thankfully, I navigated us back onto the main road, where the correct exit was located, and Joe didn’t have to complain anymore.

Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens, London, England

In my excitement for the trip I had scoped out the area on Google maps. There’s the adorable red mailbox with so much more character than our oblong navy ones in the US! Boots! In case we need to buy “plasters!” And look, on the corner! That pub is just a couple doors down from where we’re staying, and according to the online reviews they have really good pies! Everything was wonderful again.

Until we got to the door of our hotel, locked, and had to wait for about thirty minutes. Joe, looking more frustrated than before, didn’t trust himself to speak.

London Eye, London, England

The rest of the day passed in waves – fun and exhaustion, irritation and blisters, clouds and rain. In an attempt to help Joe beat his jet lag slump, we walked around the city. Buckingham Palace, the Thames, Monument, St James’ Park. It wasn’t enough, and we headed back for a nap in the afternoon. I woke him up to get dinner around 6 – pies at the pub – and we both nearly fell asleep at the table. It was pitiful.

Fortunately, the rest of the trip was uphill from there. We saw a show, visited museums, drank porters and stouts after rainy days, laughed in the frigid wind blowing off the Thames as people in The City hurried to work, tried a British Chinese buffet, and looked at the city laid out tidily beneath our feet from a cozy bubble on the London Eye.

St Paul's Cathedral, London, England

I hoped that would have been the first of many international trips for us, but since then we’ve only traveled to one other country together, on our honeymoon. I’m trying to convince him to pack a bag and jump on a plane with me again – I’m thinking somewhere cold and cozy this winter – but he’s such a homebody. He really needs to be forced, not nudged, out of his comfort zone.

If I can guilt him into traveling with me again, it’ll be a “guilt trip.” Ha!